Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday announced that the country would withdraw from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) [official website, in Spanish]. In a statement during a military ceremony, Chavez announced the withdrawal and criticized the regional court [Reuters report], saying it is not fit to be called a human rights court. The decision came just after the IACHR concluded that the prison conditions of a man convicted in multiple bombings were a violation of his human rights. The IACHR has been criticized in South America for allegedly being a tool of influence for the US.
The Venezuelan government and the IACHR have clashed in the past. In 2011, Chavez criticized the IACHR [JURIST report] for ruling in favor of presidential hopeful Leopoldo Lopez, allowing him to run for office despite a separate court ruling barring him from the election. Chavez said the ruling was politically motivated and that the court was influenced by the US. In June 2010, the IACHR sent a letter to the Venezuelan government expressing concern [JURIST report] over the increasing threat to freedom of expression in the country, citing three recent cases that caused particular concern. In February 2010, the IACHR released a report [JURIST report] providing a detailed analysis on the state of human rights in Venezuela, which ultimately concluded that not all citizens are ensured full enjoyment of their basic human rights. The top Venezuelan human rights official criticized the report [JURIST report] and said that the report makes unfair characterizations and undermines Venezuelan democracy.